Gaiam's Pilates Bodyball Workout is a 35-minute pilates workout incorporating a small rubber ball. A one-pound ball and the video (only VHS, I believe) come together in a set. I bought my set a few years ago in a store. The sets are still available from Internet sources.
The setting is a grassy area near the water's edge in Hawaii -- very pretty. I believe this area has been used in several other Gaiam productions. After a brief intro praising the ball, Ana instructs in voiceover as she leads the routine. There is one background exerciser, Tara, who demonstrates modifications. The routine mostly emphasizes the abs and core area, with a short upper body section at the end. The background music is pleasant, if not memorable.
During the ab work Ana uses the ball in various ways as resistance to increase the intensity of classic pilates exercises. For example, during The Hundred, rather than pumping the arms along the side of the body, Ana holds the ball straight out in front of her and pumps. On the Single Leg Stretch, instead of putting the hands behind the head, Ana significantly intensifies the effort by holding the ball with her arms straight behind her head. The ball is squeezed between the knees for some exercises such as the Teaser, and it adds gentle intensity to the side stretches.
The upper body section isn't so successful. No matter how much "mind-body" emphasis you apply, you are still only lifting a one-pound weight. This morning for this part I substituted one of Leslie's 3-pound Walk Away the Pounds balls, which helped, but still the upper body workout was negligable.
Overall I found it interesting to use the ball, but I'm not sure how valuable it actually was. Frankly, a lot of the additional intensity during the abs exercises was due as much to the long-lever arm positions as to holding the ball. Ana's Pilates For Abs shows similar arm positions without the ball, and overall I found that workout more intense than this one. And the one-pound weight is too light even for pilates-style upper body work.
This certainly isn't a bad tape. It makes a pleasant light-day workout. The abs section is good. Using even the one-pound ball is fun, and the box suggests you can go up to two pounds for your ball. This video may be worth looking at if you are bored with pilates and want to add some interest and a little intensity. However, there are now so many great (and more thorough and intense) core workouts available that I am doubtful I'll be keeping this one around much longer.
Ana is an elegant, articulate pilates instructor. From her DVD interviews she appears to be well grounded in classical pilates.
August 13, 2005